Presenting the new team

Dmitry Medvedev has submitted the list of his new government to Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, however, it will not be made public until the beginning of next week – that is, after the end of the G-8 summit in Camp David. This will also allow the Kremlin to come up with some last-minute changes and possibly with some surprise candidates to certain positions. In the last few weeks, press reports gave ample ground for speculation about the new ministers. Let’s see what we’ve got for the time being.

The following is a summary about the most important rumours/news/insider information about the composition of the new government, a couple of aspects of which I will discuss below (it would be rather tedious to discuss them all, provided that it isn’t even official yet – so I decided to come back to it next week). Key for the table: L = liberal; S/C = silovik/conservative; T = technocrat; asterisk = arguably a (close) associate of Putin. I used predictions that were supported by the most numerous/most reliable sources. Classifications may be debatable (or subject to errors).

Cat. Name (Possible) future position Comment Last position
D. Medvedev Prime Minister President
* L I. Shuvalov First Vice-PM SAME pos
L V. Surkov Vice-PM / Head of Apparatus SAME pos (w/o HoA)
* T A. Voloshin Vice-PM contradicting reports formerly PA
L A. Dvorkovich Vice-PM Pres. Advisor
L M. Abyzov Vice-PM Pres. Advisor
* T D. Kozak Vice-PM SAME pos
N D. Rogozin Vice-PM SAME pos
T A. Siluanov Vice-PM / M. of Finance SAME pos (w/o VPM)
* S/C T. Golikova Vice-PM / M. of Social Development some sources report about the exit of T. G. from the gov. SAME pos (w/o VPM)
* T A. Belousov M. of Economy deputy: K. Yudaeva deputy minister
* S/C R. Nurgaliev M. of Internal Affairs ministry sure to be led by a silovik SAME pos
A. Gorovoi MVD, Police
* T S. Lavrov M. of Foreign Affairs f.p. advisor to Medvedev: M. Margelov SAME pos
S/C A. Serdyukov M. of Defence sources say 50-50% of change SAME pos
S. Chemezov Rostekhnologii
L Y. Lyubimov M. of Justice Deputy minister
S/C V. Savelyev M. of Transport gov dept chief Sokolov and deputy minister Belozerov also considered Aeroflot
Y. Skrynnik M. of Agriculture SAME pos
D. Livanov M. of Education speculations – A. Fursenko sure to leave, ministry likely to be split up MISiS Institute
A. Bilalov M. of Tourism speculations – if ministry created Fed. Council
S/C V. Puchkov M. of Emergency Situations SAME pos
* S/C D. Manturov M. of Trade and Industries speculations about return of V.K. SAME pos
S/C N. Nikiforov M. of Mass Media I. Shchegolev sure to leave, number of candidates considered Tatarstan gov
??? M. of Energy lot of liberal candidates (M. Abyzov, V. Rashevsky, M. Slobodin), but unlikely because of I. Sechin
??? M. of Culture
??? M. of Natural Resources
??? M. of Regional Development
* T I. Artemyev Federal Antimonopoly Service pick of Putin SAME pos
L O. Dergunova Rosimushchestvo protegee of I. Shuvalov VTB
L Y. Kotler Public Service Reform Kadrovy Rezerv
L Y. Yuryev ??? Pres. Advisor
L N. Komarova ??? Khanty-Mansiyski Oblast governor
S/C O. Golodets ??? Moscow City Hall

The news and the rumours about the composition of the new government seem to support my earlier prediction about a “conflict government”. After withdrawing heavyweight siloviki into the safe haven of an extended Presidential Administration, providing them with considerable opportunities to keep their grasp on important industries (i.e. Igor Sechin is sure to keep his hold on the energy industry after his appointment to the helm of Rosneftegaz) and political processes, Vladimir Putin relocated the conflicts to the realm of the government. Dmitry Medvedev’s cabinet is supposed to be the engine and the representative of changes, and therefore the most vivid part of the Russian politics in the years to come (opinions differ on whether this timeframe will only be 1-2 years after which Medvedev would have to leave).

I also seem to have been right about Vladislav Surkov. The former almighty spin-doctor of the Kremlin will not go down with the drain, but will apparently assume a new responsibility as the head of the government’s apparatus. This appointment will certainly give weight to Medvedev and strengthen his team as an independent group of players within the Russian elite. This new task of a puppet-master will be similar to what Surkov had been doing before, but this time he will have to stand considerably more spotlight than before, something that so far has seemed to be alien to his nature.

Another very interesting development was the apparent background wrangling around the economic ministries. Just days ago, it seemed as if Tatiana Golikova, a strong Putin ally was poised to head the finance ministry while Arkady Dvorkovich, one of the “young Turks” of the elite, a well-known liberal economist would be appointed minister of economy. At the end, however, Vladimir Putin chose to have the final say in this issue and seemed to confirm the candidacy of the incumbent Anton Siluanov as finance minister as well as Andrey Belousov, a deputy minister to minister of economy. He has also apparently confirmed Igor Artemyev as the head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service. These appointments mark a much more cautious approach than the original one that would have resulted in a situation of a balance based on conflicting authorities. This used to be a basic feature of Putin’s power system, however, as I have blogged before, he seems to have moved on from this instrument in many fields. Keeping Siluanov and promoting Belousov, two technocrats, will guarantee a slow, steady pace of economic reforms.

Meanwhile, in the lee of the wrestling around the economic policy, some heavyweight siloviki might as well retain their positions. The minister of internal affairs Rashid Nurgaliev as well as the minister of defence, Anatoly Serdyukov, two of the least popular members of the government are now rumoured to stay in their chairs. Even if they leave, their successor is certain to be of the same breed which won’t allow many changes to happen. But then again, Putin will want to see results, not changes from these two ministries: the Ministry of Defence will have to speed up the military reform, while the Ministry of Internal Affairs is likely to apply a harsher crackdown on OccupyAbai protesters after the G-8 summit.

On the end note, the new government will be made up of three fairly equally strong group of people: liberals, siloviki /conservatives and pro-Putin technocrats who cannot be easily classed to either of the other two groups. Approximately two-thirds of the ministers will be fresh faces (although lot of the original candidates refused the opportunity). This, certainly, does not mean that they are total newcomers, but nevertheless represent a new generation of cadres. Their political longevity will be an important measure of what’s lying ahead. Ironically, the conservative elite might be interested in hammering out a deal with these incoming leaders, in order to ensure their safe exit.

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